June 14, 2003


Ugly Stepfather (Peter Beinart, 06.13.03, New Republic)
Last week, as civil war engulfed their capital, thousands of desperate Liberians besieged the U.S. Embassy. "Take action now in Liberia to end war as they have in Iraq," implored one man, according to the Associated Press. "Send the Marines to guard us," cried a student. But the Marines stationed on the embassy roof did not venture onto Liberian soil. [...]

What are the lessons of America's abdication? First, that for all its Wilsonian rhetoric about global freedom, the Bush administration's overall human rights record is no better than that of its European allies. The White House may say it invaded Iraq to rescue a suffering people, but, in countries that lack oil and a strategic location, rescuing suffering people still falls into the reviled Clintonian category of "foreign policy as social work." Afghanistan, one might think, would have alerted the Bushies to the national security consequences of allowing poor, remote countries to descend into anarchy. Evidently not. Charles Taylor--surprise!--has harbored members of Al Qaeda, who use his diamond-smuggling operation to launder money.

Second, if the Bush administration isn't prepared to save countries like Liberia, perhaps its supporters could at least stop lecturing Europe about our morally superior foreign policy. Explaining his government's intervention in Cote d'Ivoire, France's much-loathed Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said recently, "France accepts its responsibilities." Can the Bush administration look at Liberia, America's brutalized, abandoned West African stepchild, and say the same?

We agree, and eagerly look forward to the Democratic candidates making an issue of this and the leftwing marches demanding action. Posted by Orrin Judd at June 14, 2003 1:02 PM
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